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France legally bans the promotion of thinness

On Tuesday, April 15th, while most of us were scrambling to the Post Office to mail in our tax forms, France’s parliament adopted a bill to make it illegal for anyone to promote extreme thinness in men or women. From fashion moguls and magazines to websites on how to subsist on 200 calories a day or less, this legislation, if passed, would be truly groundbreaking for all of us who have suffered or who have known anyone to suffer from a body image or eating disorder.

It’s no doubt that extreme thinness in fashion models, as well as thousands of women throughout the world, is a serious and grave problem. You also have to consider how complex eating disorders are. It’s not just about food and a number on a scale. All of us are bombarded with images of skinny models wearing size 0 clothing, but only .5% to 1% of all young American women have anorexia and about 10% of young American women are bulimic. Obviously something else is going on here on a much deeper level than just being exposed to billboards and photographs of emaciated women.

That aside, A legislation like this would surely send a message to anyone or any company that idolizes or promotes the beauty of razor-thin women. And as someone who has battled with body image issues her whole life, I see this kind of initiative as a step in the right direction, even if proving it in court is near impossible.

What do you think about this legislation? Do you think it’s a step in the right direction or is France just putting a band-aid on cancer?

April 18th, 2008